This article first appeared in the Coeur d’Alene Press on April 8, 2017. By DEVIN HEILMAN Staff Writer
Peggy Lemm and Barbara Richardson diligently placed trinkets into shiny gold boxes lined with colorful Easter grass.
Candy-filled Easter eggs, lotions, Lemm’s handmade earrings and an assortment of other items were placed in the gift boxes and Easter baskets. They were accompanied by cards with Richardson’s handwritten messages of blessings and love for the seniors who would receive them.
“We hope it will help them a lot and we’re happy to do it for them,” Richardson said Friday. “We hope it brings them some blessings.”
Silver Angels for the Elderly (S.A.F.E.) is a local organization dedicated to protecting seniors and advocating for the elderly while combating elder abuse. The group recently received a $250 grant through Thrivent Financial to help purchase a variety of items for a gift- giving drive.
“People in nursing homes, they just love it,” Lemm said. “They never get enough visitors or attention. There are some people that have nobody.”
Silver Angels director Diane Zell connected with local businesses and individuals who donated some of the items the volunteers delivered to Post Falls Senior Center and a few local senior facilities. The items were chosen with care and included stuffed animals, playing cards, cozy slippers, coloring books, bookmarks and more.
“We just want to show seniors we care about them,” Zell said.
“This is all God’s doing. If it wasn’t for him, this wouldn’t have happened. For me to meet the girlfriend who told me about Thrivent, who then I got involved with and then we got the grant — it’s a God thing.”
Silver Angels volunteer Karen Yao, who has a PhD background, worked as a caregiver in a senior assisted-living facility where she said she witnessed mental abuse toward the elderly tenants. This led her to find Silver Angels, where she could help make a difference. The group is working on an elder-abuse task force and will soon be updating its website, www.silverangelsfortheelderly.com, to include data-gathering features and ways to rate facilities on how they treat their seniors.
“I think this is good. It’s a good start to bring awareness to issues and let them know the community cares and they’re not forgotten,” Yao said. “If, as a community, we show care for this issue, then things can begin to change.”